August and September were great months, well for Kel they were, I managed to get a really annoying eye infection which knocked me out of sorts but it wasn’t too bad. However, those who know us or follow us on social media and my blog, you’ll know about Kel’s ankle problem that has basically kept us not only off the fell’s, but kept us from any form of physical exercise for a year. But an operation and a long rehabilitation has sorted her troublesome joint out a treat.
Our hiking partners Dicko and Sue have also long awaited Kel’s return to the footpaths and bridal ways so it only seemed appropriate that they joined us on our ‘tester’ trip to the hills to see if the operation had done its job. There was no discussion about the first test, ‘Roseberry Topping’!! it made sense, close to home and a nice steady climb with no drama’s plus, as long as you don’t look at Middlesbrough, cracking views when the skies are clear.So, for the first time in ages I got my rucksack out and checked and checked again, rucksack sceptics like Kel and Sue think I carry too much kit, but as Dicko and I always say, the hills are a dangerous place and should not be taken for granted. Even a small hill like ‘Topping’ needs to treated respect and the weather can, even in mid-summer, close in and cut you off. Plus an injury can send a nice day out walking into turmoil and misery and god knows what else if unprepared.
As the ground levelled so did my heart rate, it calmed quickly which, from my army PTI days, shows I’m still quite fit. The heather was quite breath taking and because I’m a sado it wasn’t long before I was seeing how many different kinds of butterflies I could spot. Immediately the views are stunning, looking left over the stone wall Roseberry Topping was standing there ready to be ‘topped’, I’ve been to the top numerous times but this time was special, it was Kel’s first top in more than a year. With a smile that made me look like I’ve slept with a coat hanger in my mouth we cracked on along the wall line keeping Great Ayton Moor to our right. The banter was fun and times were great, we were back on the hills and life was good. As the temporary view stopper Slacks wood stops, the path drops down before the steep incline to the top of Roseberry.
The view was consistent and beautiful, the sky was clear and the North Sea was still. The incline is fairly steep but the path well maintained, as you’d expect with a section of the Cleveland Way. At this point we had a visitor to the walk; a Kestrel was patrolling its patch and was circling us. It came to rest on a fence post and seemed quite happy to be the subject of a photo shoot. It’s times like this that hiking shows it’s worth, views of wildlife like this seldom are seen in everyday life, well for me they don’t, this is one of the reasons I walk. The gorgeous bird of prey got bored with all the attention it was getting and took to flight to continue its patrol. We reached the dip on Roseberry Common and braced ourselves for the climb to the top of the popular peak.
I could see from here that the top was very busy and there were quite a few people coming down from the top, we passed a few who looked like they’d just come out for an evening stroll, trainers jeans etc. this always annoys me but I won’t dwell on it. After a short time and quite a bit of sweat we reached the top. I’d forgotten how ‘vandalised’ the stone work was at the top, it amazes me why people want to disfigure a piece of nature like this. I never could understand why someone would want to carve their name into a rock, idiots!! The others sat down for a rest but I wanted to have a look around. The west side of the peak is quite steep, it’s not accessible without rope and gear and looking at it, it doesn’t look like many have attempted to climb it. I also found what looked like someone’s ashes, I reminded Kel that I still want mine scattering off the top of Carlside. I got the usual response made up of expletives that I can’t repeat on a family blog, she don’t like Carlside!! We spent a few more minutes taking in the view and set off back down the way we’d come. Heading east down the CW with the intention of heading over to Hutton Moor. Our friend the Kestrel showed itself again with another brief pose before heading over to the corner of Slacks Wood. Back up the hill and instead of turning right back along the fence line to Slacks wood we carried on west towards Hutton Moor. This is a very ‘moory’ section of the route with acres of heather and the sound of cackling grouse to accompany us. Grouse Butts served as a reminder why the grouse were heard but not seen, dodgy time of year for game birds, it makes you realise why pheasant’s normally run across roads instead of flying.
The forest shown on OS map, Hutton Lowcross woods is now…. Not forest!! This is a very popular mountain bike route and they were coming thick and fast. I admire them, like fell runners, it’s a very demanding pass time that takes bags of stamina, however, I can remember when I used to run around the hills in my army days and looking back I never actually saw much scenery. Now I’m walking the hills I’m taking in more of the views and enjoying it more. Turning right heading south east took us up a slight hill again surrounded by heather. Now, about two hundred meters up the track there should be a path leading off to the right, there sign posts there, but the path ain’t. While Dicko was examining the map I decided to recce the path, or where it should be. I went for about 20 metres into the thick heather and couldn’t see any clearings, I saw what looked like a boundary stone about 300 metres in the distance and thought it wasn’t too bad. I trugged back to the rest and saw a familiar look on Sue’s face, that “I’ll be buggered if I’m walking across there” look! Dicko and me had shorts on and the girls had long trousers on so I thought it would be me and him getting scratched legs not them. After a deliberation between the Dickinson’s and Kel finding a chunky bright green caterpillar, Dicko had won and we set off across the moorland. No one had used this path for some time and it showed, the heather was thick and the grouse had strimmers. We reached the boundary post and the we could see the path we had started on, however that was about 500 meters of thick heather away and Sue’s face wasn’t a happy one. I didn’t help by bringing up the subject of Adders and that their bite can be very nasty, but we cracked on and found a grouse butt path and with bloodied legs we re-joined the path we had trugged up earlier.
The evening was drawing in but the temperature was ill comfortable, we dropped down the hill we had started on not that long ago and came to rest at Dicko’s car. I’ve had my boots for about 15 years and the outers are still going strong, however I couldn’t help thinking the inners are on their last legs as the steam piped out of them. My sandals were a welcome feeling, but the heather filled socks weren’t. The pint in Great Ayton went down well as the next step out was discussed.
Roseberry Topping is a nice walk out with lovely views, the top can get a bit busy and years of it being ‘topped’ has took its toll with pointless etchings daubed all over the rock.